DoT to seek legal view on Sistema, Telenor invoking treaties
New Delhi: The DoT will seek legal opinion and views of ministries of finance and external affairs on foreign telecom firms like Sistema and Telenor invoking bilateral treaties to protect their investments in the aftermath of Supreme Court cancelling their licences.
Sources said the Department of Telecom would seek opinion of the Attorney General, the nation's highest law officer, on whether the Supreme Court order -- that cancelled 122 2G licences -- can be challenged under bilateral investment protection treaties India has signed with various countries.
AG would be asked if foreign investors can claim damages from India for violation of the treaties and for failure to protect their investments.
Sources said DoT would also seek views of Department of Economic Affairs (Ministry of Finance), Department of Legal Affairs, Department of Commerce and Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion on the subject.
The Supreme Court had on on February 2 quashed allotment of 122 2G licences given under the then Telecom Minister A Raja in 2008 on the ground that they were issued in a "totally arbitrary and unconstitutional" manner.
The decision impacted operators like Uninor of Norway and Russia's Sistema who had bought equity stakes in the Indian firms that were allocated 2G licences in 2008.
Since the order, foreign investors like Bahrain Telecom, a partner in S Tel, and Etisalat DB of UAE have announced closure of their operations in the country.
On the other hand, Telenor, which partners real estate firm Unitech in Uninor, and Sistema (joint venture partner in Sistema Shyam Teleservices (SSTL), have invoked bilateral treaties to secure their investments in the country.